Keith had invited me along to The Who’s ‘secret show’ at Surrey University on October 9, but I was sworn to secrecy as it was trial run before the forthcoming US tour, and only 600 tickets were available to students only, making this probably the smallest venue The Who ever played during the Seventies. It was one of the very best Who shows I ever saw, a truly magical evening, John’s birthday, and I wrote about it on another post. What I didn’t mention was how it got me into hot water at MM.
A report on the show by a staff writer in New Musical Express the following week puzzled me, the band and their entourage since the writer in question hadn't been there. Under Richard Green's by-line the following story appeared: "'Oo's got the most exciting stage act in the world, then? The 'Oo, that's 'oo. And 'ow do I know? 'Cause I know all about a sneak preview of their tour that 'appened at Surrey University in Guildford on Saturday, that's 'ow. And what a show! It's a new Who in as much as the basic act has altered, most of the clothes have been changed and the sound and lighting equipment is new and improved, but it's still the good old Who we all know and love, presenting the ultimate in excitement and visual entertainment. Roger Daltrey has got rid of his fringed jacket in favour of a denim jacket and tattered old jeans, Pete's boiler suit has gone for a Burton to be replaced by a smart, tailored white linen outfit, John Entwistle still wears black trousers and shirt, but now topped by a coloured jacket. Mad Moon, of course, still sticks to his white T-shirt."
Since Keith and The Who had asked me not to review this show in Melody Maker I kept my promise, so when that report appeared in NME, I was mightily pissed off. What had happened was that a photographer who'd been there had sold his pictures to NME and told Richard Green about the show and he'd written a report as if he'd been there. That's why the report said everything about what they were wearing and nothing about what they played – all he saw were the pictures. As MM's unofficial 'Who correspondent' I was supposed to know everything about the band and certainly wasn't supposed to be scooped by NME. I explained what had happened to MM editor Ray Coleman but he was as was mad as hell that I'd put The Who’s wishes before the magazine. It was very embarrassing for me, the kind of dilemma that cropped up again and again when I got close to a band.
Many years later, on a New Year's Eve in San Francisco in the Nineties, with my wife who comes from the Bay Area, we were at a dinner party and one of the other guests was a girl who'd been a student at Surrey Uni in 1971 and had attended the show. Some coincidence considering how few attended.